Egyptian traffic

There was a big traffic accident in Egypt today that made the international news wires. A bus smashed into a truck on a highway. So far the death toll is twenty-three. At the end of the article there's a short bit on how Egypt has tons of traffic accidents. I thought I'd share an anecdotes about traffic in Cairo from when I was in Egypt in the early nineties.

Photo from GHAWAYESH

I accompanied my parents to Egypt when I was in 6th grade (November-December 1991 1995) as my dad was going there for a business trip. The first day we arrived in Cairo, after we checked into the hotel, I got a Pepsi and went out to the balcony which looked out on the Nile and a bridge across it. I sat down on one of the chairs and watched as a public transportation bus went the wrong way over a bridge and crashed into a dark blue station wagon. The bus ended up skidding and rotating so that it blocked off the entire bridge. Everybody piled out of the station wagon (like five people) and the bus (more like twenty) and then dispersed through the traffic jam that had piled up behind the bus.

I was fascinated by this and sat and watched while my parents were inside unpacking everything. After all the people who were in the bus or station wagon had left, the cars behind the bus just sat there unable to move. After maybe twenty minutes a policeman on a bicycle finally showed up. According to my Egyptian friends, after an accident everybody claims to have not seen anything when questioned by the police - if they tell details, they might spend the night at jail to make sure the police don't lose their witness. I never did see an ambulance arrive but I couldn't see that anyone was actually injured. By the time I had to go, there was still a bus sitting sideways across a major bridge on the Nile, spilling oil across the pavement with a destroyed station wagon in front of it and traffic backed up as far as I could see.

That was my introduction to Egypt.


subadei said...

Lol! Unreal. I take it you and the folks shied away from Cairo's bus system during your stay?

Adrian said...

No, a friend of my dad's had the only non-dented non-official vehicle in Cairo, a bright red Jeep Cherokee. Although one time we struggled to pass a donkey cart going in the opposite direction down an alley, that was the closest it came to getting dented while we were there.

MediaSHack said...

how were you in 6th grade in 1991?

Adrian said...

Whoops, can't count... I think it was 1995. Whatever year it was that the bus full of tourists got machine-gunned at Luxor.

Intelligencer said...


Both in the Middle East and Eastern Europe I just prayed a lot when I was in a vehicle. There seem to be a lot of people in those regions with a vehicular deathwish.